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Friday, July 19th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 1

Simeon's Horae HomileticaeHorae Homileticae

Verses 7-9


Joshua 1:7-9. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the Law which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the Law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

IN an address to Joshua, when about to invade a country “wherein were seven nations greater and mightier than he,” we might well expect a charge to him to “be strong and very courageous:” but we should naturally suppose, that the exhortation to fortitude would have respect chiefly, if not exclusively, to the enemies whom he was about to encounter: whereas his enemies are left, as it were, altogether out of sight; and no notice is taken but of the Law of God, as that towards which his courage should be exercised. But, as all his success depended entirely upon God, it was indispensably necessary that he should secure the divine favour; which could not be done but by an obedience to God’s commands: and an unreserved obedience to them would, in fact, require in him a stronger principle of courage, than the most formidable enemies would give occasion for. In confirmation of this, I will shew,


Wherein the fortitude of a Christian soldier should chiefly display itself—

He is to contend with all the enemies of his salvation, in obedience to the laws of God—
[The world, the flesh, and the devil, are the enemies with whom he is to fight — — — Now, a soldier in the army of an earthly prince is to act in all things according to certain rules, which are laid down for him in a code of laws drawn up for that specific purpose: these are called the Articles of War; and with them he is to be conversant, in order that he may conform himself to them in all things. The Christian soldier, also, has his code drawn up for him by God himself, and revealed to him in the Oracles of Truth. This code he is to study with all diligence, and “to meditate on it day and night,” that there may be in him an accordance with it in every particular. “Never is he to turn aside from it, to the right hand or to the left.” However difficult or self-denying its injunctions, he must obey it: and by it, as a test, must he try all the instruction or advice given to him in relation to his conduct. It must be so sacred in his eyes, that he will die rather than depart from it in any thing. If blamed in any thing, as too scrupulous and too strict, he must refer to that as his standard: “it must be ever in his mouth,” as well as in his heart; and he must inculcate on others the same observance as he pays to it himself.]
And this will require all the courage that any man can possess—
[It will require no little courage so to subdue and mortify all his corrupt inclinations, as to have them brought into subjection to the laws of God. And to maintain such an habit in the midst of an ungodly world, will expose him to the heaviest trials. A man who enlists in an army has but to contend with enemies: but the Christian soldier will have to maintain sore conflicts even with his friends: yea, “his greatest foes will be those of his own household.” Nor is it only for a season, during a few campaigns, that he must fight; but every day, every hour, throughout his whole life. He is never off the field of battle: he is never at liberty to relax his vigilance for a single hour. His armour must be girt upon him day and night. The weapons, too, with which he is assaulted, are formidable in the extreme. Shall it be thought that death alone has its terrors? I scruple not to say, that there are thousands who would find it easier to face a battery of cannon, than to withstand the sneers, and pity, and contempt, and ridicule, of their nearest and dearest friends. Not but that the Christian soldier must be prepared to “resist even unto blood.” If he will not lay down his life for Christ, he cannot be his disciple. And does not this require courage? Worldly soldiers have many things to animate and imbolden them, which the Christian soldier wants. They are surrounded by multitudes, who are engaged in the same contest, and who invigorate one another by their voices and example; but he engages alone, or nearly so, at the point of attack, and at the time that he is most pressed. They are applauded in proportion to their exertions, and commend themselves to the esteem of all who behold them: but the more strenuously the Christian soldier exerts himself, the more is he hated and despised by all who ought to encourage and commend him: and, instead of looking for any reward in this life, he knows that to his dying hour he has no other treatment to expect. Verily, it is not for nought that the Christian soldier is bidden to be strong and very courageous: for there is more need of a principle of fortitude in him, than in any other person under heaven.]
Let us however notice, on the other hand,


The encouragement which God himself affords to all who desire to serve him in truth—

As he reminded Joshua of the grounds he had for encouragement, so he would have us to consider,


In whose service we are engaged—

[“Have not I commanded thee?” Yes, it is the God of heaven whose battles we fight, and in whose service we are engaged. Were it only an earthly monarch to whom we had devoted ourselves, we ought to serve him with all fidelity: what, then, should we not do for the King of kings, who has not only chosen us to be his soldiers, but has himself taken the field for our sakes, to subdue our enemies, and to deliver us from their assaults? I Contemplate Jehovah as our Covenant-God—contemplate him as assuming our very nature on purpose to fight our battles—rounder him as submitting to death itself, that on the very cross he might “spoil the principalities and powers of hell,” and “lead captivity itself captive.”–This is “the Captain of our salvation” under whom we fight; and shall not that encourage us? Suppose the whole universe combined against us, and issuing their orders that we shall not obey so strictly the laws of God; what reply should we make, but that of the Apostles, “Whether it be right to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye; for we cannot but fulfil his will and execute His commands.”]


The pledge he gives us of his presence and support—

[“Be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for the Lord thy God is with thee, whithersoever thou goest,” said the Lord to Joshua: and says he not the same to us, “Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world [Note: Matthew 28:20.]?” Now, imagine a soldier with his commander and his prince always at his side: would he not be stirred up by that to acts of valour, which, in the absence of such a stimulus, he would be unable to put forth? Know, then, that your God is ever with you; and with you, not only as a Witness of your actions, but as a Helper, to strengthen you, to uphold you, to combat with you. What encouragement can you desire beyond this? Hear his own words, addressed to every soldier in his army: “Fear not, for I am with thee: be not dismayed, for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness [Note: Isaiah 41:10.].” What matters it, then, how many there may be against you? If they were as numerous as the sands upon the sea-shore, you may boldly say, “There are more with you than with them.” In fact, “If God be for you, who can be against you?” They may assault you, and boast of their triumphs; but they can do nothing, but in accordance with his will, and in subserviency to his designs.]


The assurance he gives us of ultimate success—

[“Then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and thou shalt have good success.” You are persecuted: you are imprisoned; you are put to death: but are you vanquished? Was the Saviour overcome when he was put to death? Did he not “by death overcome him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver those who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage?” “He was the stone which the builders rejected: but, is he not the Headstone in the corner?” Know, then, that you are not to estimate victory by the present and temporary effects, but by the ultimate and everlasting results. Be it so: you are sorely oppressed, and your enemies are exulting over you: but God’s word is not broken: for tribulation is the way to glory; and the cross precedes the crown. Only be content to suffer with Christ; and be assured you shall speedily be “glorified together [Note: Romans 8:17.].”]


Let none expect victory without conflicts—

[What shall we say of the religion of your enemies? Has it any resemblance to the religion of the Bible? Are they hated for righteousness’ sake? No: the world cannot hate them, because they are of the world. You, on the contrary, are hated purely because you will conform yourselves to the laws of God. Be thankful, then, that ye have this evidence that ye are the Lord’s.]


Let none doubt of victory, who fight in dependence on the Lord’s strength, and in conformity to his commands—

[Be strong, and very courageous to do his will — — —But take special care what kind of fortitude it is that you maintain. There is an unhallowed boldness, which savours of pride and vain-glory. You cannot be too much on your guard against this. Yours must be a passive fortitude, such as Christ manifested when “he was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and opened not his mouth.” You are to “love your enemies, to bless them that curse you, and to pray for them that despitefully use you.” “You are not to be overcome of evil, but to overcome evil with good.” In you are to be seen “the meekness and gentleness of Christ.” Only fight with these weapons, and, “even though ye be slain like sheep, ye shall be more than conquerors [Note: Romans 8:36-37.].”]

Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Joshua 1". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/shh/joshua-1.html. 1832.
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